India’s apple imports are forecast to fall by five per cent this season (2017/18) to 0.35m tonnes, according to the USDA.
Pear imports are also projected to drop slightly to 0.03m tonnes during this marketing period, its latest Gain report said.
The USDA attributes the expected dip to India’s current ban on Chinese apples and pears, but says the shortfall will be partly offset by increases in imports from the US.
On 1 May, the Indian Ministry of Agriculture temporarily suspended Chinese apple and pear imports into India following recurrent pest detections.
Although India’s apple crop is forecast to rise this season to 2.3m tonnes thanks to favourable growing conditions, domestic production cannot meet demand, the report explains.
The major factors fueling apple demand are increasing population, growing disposable incomes, improving lifestyle, health awareness, and a large percentage of vegetarian consumers.
India’s apple imports have risen dramatically since trade liberalisation in 1999, and hit a record 0.37m last season (2016/17), worth US$237m, the report says.
Some 44 per cent of apple imports last season came from China; followed by 23 per cent from the US; and 14 per cent from Chile.
Yet just a year earlier, in 2015, the US had the majority share of the import market with 54 per cent, followed by China and Chile at 14 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, the USDA says.
In separate news, the report says Indian grape production is forecast to reach 3m tonnes in 2017/18, with Indian grape exports expected to increase to 0.27m tonnes.